Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time Bomb

A few weeks ago my therapist mentioned that this move would be challenging. My response "you think?" She pointed out that the new house solidifies that our family is what it is: the three of us. Ed won't be there with us. Seems obvious, right? For the kids, that reality is far more powerful than I would have realized and I am glad I have language to understand their behavior. With the move only two days away, the tension is thick.

Jack is quick to irrational anger, the kind that makes him throw fake punches at his sister for sitting too content on the couch. He teared up (which is rare, when related to Ed), and expressed sadness that Ed isn't moving to the house with us. It must be safer to take the absence in small parts- rather than dad is gone forever, Jack can articulate a sadness in the less abstract reality of daddy not moving with us.

Reese arouses from sleep -more often from naps- absolutely pissed off. She will scream and yell and demand her dad. I let her work it out- as devastated as I am relieved that she is working through it.

My reaction is little to no patience. I apologize at least once a day for snapping at little stuff that doesn't really matter, but that feels huge when I am days away from completing the packing that is now hours away. I feel like I should be making this move more special- doing things to commemorate the change, but I haven't.

I live in the bitter barn or the grateful den. The mood swings for moving in normal circumstances test just about anyone and I'm on an emotional rollercoaster that has me nauseous. I hate that I am doing this by myself- but still amazingly overwhelmed at the folks who are making time to help me out.

When I worked at a Congregational Church in Bellingham during graduate school, I mentioned to my boss, one of the pastors, that I couldn't wait for life to start once I was finished my Master's degree. He told me that graduate school *was* life. Ed and I spent so much time waiting for life to start; last summer there was a shift and it actually felt like we were learning to live in the moment. Yet, I think of all those years we were waiting for the optimum moment to begin living (and, living, after all, is enjoying the moment). I am working hard not to wait for this move to be over or to get used to the new job before breathing out. These moments of absolute stress and tension,-this time of transition- is life.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shades of Grey

(Don't I wish that it would be one of those kinds of posts..not quite yet...)

I think I've found the paint color for the living room. It's a blue grey and perfect. I wanted the second bedroom grey to match my color scheme and Reese's (since it will be my room for the foreseeable future and then hers), but I've been through about nine different greys and it's impossible to find one that isn't too blue or too green. Besides, that's a lot of grey in the house (at least Jack's room is a bearable Sounders green - from last season, not this year). So, I picked up a light lilac paint sample today and I hope it works. We start painting on Monday (we being me and a few amazing, generous friends). We'll be painting while the sheet rock guy puts up new walls in the living room. Yup, there's no turning back now.

On the drive home from the kids' birthday party today (Ed's brother and best friend, Steve and his wife, were gracious enough to host in part to avoid me having to host in a half packed house and in part to keep the memory of Ed a little further away), I realized how familiar the unbearable has become. My 20 year high school reunion is tonight and I wished I had more foresight to have figured out a way to go. It would have been lovely to see everyone and to remember who I was before I was a Kingston, because I think it would have given me some inspiration. Besides, the drive home from family events is awful. So awful. The kids are tired and tuned out. There's nothing on the radio, so the silence is stifling. I find myself facing the reality of Ed's death in the car- it's so real, I can't wrap my head around it. After nine months, the fabric of a new routine has woven itself around our daily lives, and part of that thread includes the wrongness of our life as three, not four. Long drives home are a brutal reminder of that reality and there's no where to hide.

And yet, there are moments- very brief- that I can feel a surge of something besides common despair. I can't wait to get to the new house. I love it there; I unpacked the kitchen this morning while the kids were at the parade with friends and I was energized. On the drive home, I realize that some of blues were because I wasn't driving to the new house- but because I was driving to our current home, the house I have, in the best of times, put up with. Do you realize that this means that there's a possible FIX for the blues- that they may not actually *all* be permanent? This is HUGE. And, earlier this week, I had a glimpse of what I could be at work, how my job is a great fit and that there's a lot I want to do with it. With this career move, I'm redefining myself and what a gift to have a new professional canvas to draw on.

The paint color in the living room is called Divine Fog. It seems appropriate. I can't see very far in front of the current moment, and though the mood is often heavy and grey, there is some clearling and it reveals something promising, even exciting.

Over the nowhere arches the everywhere.  ~ Maria Rainer Rilke

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012

I signed the date a dozen times or more today sitting on the 23rd floor of the Columbia Tower, watching a spectacular light show. Last night, I set out the majority of my "stuff" to be sold at tomorrow's yard sale including furniture and toys and games. The weather forecast said sun through the weekend. This morning, on the drive downtown, I heard "possible thunderstorms" on the radio. In between signatures, I looked outside to see multiple bolts of lightening flashing over the city. It poured downtown, but not in West Seattle (I still texted my kids' summer nanny- Aunt Lisa- to get the tarp over the furniture).

Grief is a double-edged sword that cuts the gut. And both sides cut, usually at the same time. Leaving this house and moving into a new one forces us to face that we are, indeed, a family of three. Ed's not coming back home because we are in a new home. He doesn't know where we live. I sort through our things and pack up our stuff facing that reality. It's a brutal reality. One that I'm glad I took a month from work off for. The brutality of it has me ready to fight. (Or flight, apparently, since I'm moving). I thought I had no patience before, but it's gone now. So much so that I can't stomach small talk or laugh at domestic niceties. I avoid email and conversation so the friends I cherish won't breathe in my disdain and mistake it for a personal attack (I can't imagine what damage I'd do at work). I suppose that if I didn't have the anger, it would mean I wasn't facing this all head on. I suppose if I didn't have the anger, I would sleep the month of July away because God knows I'm tired. I'm beyond exhausted.

Though, driving home (out of the rain), I felt okay. Okay in a way I haven't in a week. For a moment, I had a glimpse of a future. I have no idea what that future is, but to have a sense that there is one, is great. I was reminded of the power of status quo. Like, when Ed & I were married; somehow, despite the fact that we were only 21 and 22 years old, we were suddenly seen as legitimate- that saying "I do" to something we had no idea what we were saying "I do" to transformed us into responsible, credible adults. We would talk about the ridiculousness of that notion, but were also seduced by how easy it was to be transformed. Buying a home is similar. I am equally irritated by this as I am in awe, because it is the power of "normal" that seduces and leaves those less than normal, us outliers, isolated. Though, I felt okay. These days, I'll take "okay" at almost any cost.

I'm ending with a quote that I've returned to all week. It gives me permission to barrel forward and not judge the anger- mine or my kids (who have also been incredibly angry in spurts). But to respect it as the normal response:

She taught me that grief is a time to be lived through, experienced fully, and that the heavens will not fall if I give voice to my anger against God in such a time. -Elizabeth Watson

Saturday, July 07, 2012

What a Mess

I would post a picture of my kitchen-particularly the dishes in and around the sink-if I knew I wouldn't be mortified later. Reese is asleep next to me on the couch with a fever; Jack is at a barbeque enjoying the amazing 80 degree sun with his friends and their parents (my friends). Of course, I couldn't feel farther away from everyone if I was at home or near the fire pit. C.S. Lewis wrote in "A Grief Observed" that grief was like a veil, or a blanket- not sure which, but it's a film of yuck between the person grieving and the rest of the world. It's awful. And, no one wants to ask how things are; no one wants to taint the beautiful weather and good times. I don't blame them; I look at me through their eyes and am amazed that anyone would want to be even near such awful sadness.

But, like I said, my house is a mess. I am so aware of how my standards are sliding; Ed and I would come home from vacation and the bags would be unpacked within the hour; the cat box cleaned, the garbage put out, the floors swept and the rugs vacuumed. We got home yesterday and the weight of Ed's absence kept me from doing all but what he would do first (cat box, sweep, vacuum). I let my kids have cookies for brunch and Popsicles for dinner. If they brush their teeth twice a day, I feel like I should get an award.

I read something yesterday that it takes about seven years to deal with grief. Seven. Years. I'll be 45. Maybe then I'll enjoy fireworks again. We watched them at Coeur d'alene this week- it was such a great vacation. I wasn't sad at all and genuinely escaped- all of it. The long moving to-do list. The birthday planning. The July without Ed. Anyway, the fireworks have always been my thing- what I loved so much. But, when you are with someone for 16 years, even sharing the joys of my love - and his (have I mentioned that I actually enjoyed watching the European Soccer Championship tournament?)- becomes tainted.

So much is changing. And, I'm working really hard to find out what is worth keeping (getting the kids outside, quality over quantity) and what is judged by a standard that perhaps doesn't fit in my world view anymore (keeping the yard weeded or the kitchen clean all the time). The thing is, there is a big part of me that feels like I'm failing Ed by not keeping *every* part of our life the same. And that part of me wrestles with the one who says that I have so much life to live and here's an opportunity to recreate in a way few can.

I just miss Ed. Which is good, I guess; some days I've been afraid that I'm just missing my domestic partner. But, in the midst of this messy house, all I can think about is having him here.